Wind Power: From NIMBY to YIMBY
June 6, 2012
Rural communities in my neck of the woods have had but one serious model for rural development up until recently, that was, more prisons. It’s what’s become a signature of the “conservative” vision for our future.
Renewable energy is now offering a way for rural people, always the best stewards of their own land, to stay on the land their ancestors worked and husbanded.
Here’s how two very different communities went from NIMBY, (not in my back yard), to YIMBY (yes in my back yard).
Contrast this positive approach with the recently leaked proposal for a phony, astro-turfed “grass roots” anti wind movement – funded by Koch brother and other regressive interests, to block wind development, and keep our rural areas in poverty and dependence on big energy and big oil.
In February, a group of anti-wind activists gathered in Washington, DC. Their goal: establish a coordinated, nation-wide program of “wind warriors” who could be dispatched to fight the industry anywhere, anytime.
The organization would combine efforts and create “what should appear as a ‘groundswell’ among grass roots” to counter legislation supporting wind energy on the federal, state and local levels.
The leader of the group was John Droz, Jr, a long-time wind opponent and a senior fellow at the ultra-conservative American Tradition Institute. ATI calls itself an “environmental” think tank. The organization, known best for suing climate scientist Michael Mann, is devoted to spreading doubt about climate change, opposing state-level renewable energy targets, and stripping away environmental regulations.
The ATI is so extreme that it was denounced by the American Association for the Advancement of Science for contributing to an “environment that inhibits the free exchange of scientific findings and ideas.”
John Droz, Jr., a longtime foe of the wind energy industry and senior fellow at the right-wing American Tradition Institute, an organization that focuses on “restoring science, accountability, and liberty to the environmental policy debate,” reportedly led the group. Droz and other anti-wind advocates gathered in Washington, DC earlier this year to discuss how they couldrecruit a national team of “wind warriors” that could fight companies within the wind power sector.
The memo starts with the overall theme of the PR campaign, urging targeted messages that instead of standing against something (as in wind power), be for “science.” The minimum goal was to campaign against any state and local efforts to expand wind energy, with its broadest goal to “constructively influence national and state energy and environmental policies.”
Some of the tactics in the early stages included:
- Partnering with think tanks across the political spectrum such as the Brookings Institute and Cato Institute, and also conservative lobbying organizations such as the Heartland Institute and ALEC, which in hindsight would have muddled their efforts.
- “Encourage critical thinking from members and the public.”
- Recruiting volunteers without establishing a formal national organization, using them as a lobbying effort to influence lawmakers and providing public relations training. No word whether Texas Governor Rick Perry, a supporter of wind power, was on any such list.
- Collaborating with like-minded groups such as tea party activists, “true environmentalists,” business organizations and property rights activists.
In the event the group could establish a national organization, Droz et al. would launch a think tank to distribute white papers, and counter the wind energy’s outreach on PR Newswire with its own media campaign using that same company as a platform. An advertising campaign on all media would employ a well-known spokesperson “with star credibility,” preferably on a volunteer basis. A youth outreach program targeting public schools and colleges would sponsor science fairs and other school activities with the goal to “steer away” students from wind because they would then “discover that [wind power] doesn’t meet the criteria we set up.” Meanwhile a “dummy business” would enter communities considering wind power development with proposals to build 400 foot billboards.
Other “counter-intelligence” measures would include a massive social media campaign and a tell-all “expose” book about the wind power industry. Another idea was a “meme Response Coordinator” that would target companies using symbols or seals demonstrating that wind power was used to make the product. This anti-wind group in turn would then assign a tax-wasting symbol on the product and urge a boycott of the product on its website. And when PR was not enough, a team of lawyers would take property developers involve with wind energy projects to court in order to, at the very least, cause media exposure. All of these shenanigans, of course, would then be broadcast on sympathetic news outlets including the Washington Times, Wall Street Journal and Fox News.